After posting my thoughts on Creative Commons Licenses, I realized that I left open the issue of whether authors and owners would be granted legal protection in the event that someone – eek! – violated their Creative Common’s license. Not being the type of person to leave anyone will a sense of fulfillment, I’ve excerpted the Creative Common’s blog post on this very issue:
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), the leading IP court in the United States, has upheld a free copyright license, while explicitly pointing to the work of Creative Commons and others. The Court held that free licenses such as the CC licenses set conditions (rather than covenants) on the use of copyrighted work. As a result, licensors using public licenses are able to seek injunctive relief for alleged copyright infringement, rather than being limited to traditional contract remedies.
Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig explained the theory of all free software, open source, and Creative Commons licenses upheld by the court: “When you violate the condition, the license disappears, meaning you’re simply a copyright infringer. This is the theory of the GPL and all CC licenses. Put precisely, whether or not they are also contracts, they are copyright licenses which expire if you fail to abide by the terms of the license.” Lessig said the ruling provided “important clarity and certainty by a critically important US Court.”
So, if you choose to use a Creative Commons license, don’t fret, your work is protected.